Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. Default Interstates vs. Two-lane Highways

    I have posted here before, but I can't exactly find what I'm looking for here... Is there a whole lot of differences between the Interstates and two-lane or other highways (Specifically in the Southwest and Western US.)?

    Am I going to miss alot of scenery or "hidden gems" if I take the Interstates (I-40, etc.)?

    Any help would be much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Not an Either/Or Choice

    The difference between Interstates and two-lane roads is more one of state-of-mind, rather than seeing or missing scenery, or catching those "hidden gems". It is true that in the Southwest, as elsewhere, that you will get more of a feel for the lay of the land on the local roads since the Interstates are built to specifications which limit their ability to hug curving hillsides or climb and descend steep grades. But the scenery to the side as the two different types of roadway traverse a bit of countryside is exactly the same. Often, in fact, the Interstates can provide more expansive vistas due to their own width and flatness.

    What the southwest doesn't have, that I really appreciate in the South and Midwest, are a lot of four-lane divided highways. There's just not a lot of need for them once you get west of Texas. But because of the wide open nature of the terrain, speed limits tend to be pretty high (north of 60 mph) even on the two-lane roads. In fact, in Loving County, Texas, the speed limit on Interstate 20 is 70 and the speed limit on the local state highway, TX-302, is 75!

    Now, here's an oddity. Because most traffic these days is on the Interstates, that's where the advertising is. If you're hoping to catch billboards for things like "The Thing", then you'll only find them on the Interstate. But if you've done your homework before a trip and know where the places of interest to you are, then chances are you'll be using local roads to get to them. See, it's not the road that makes the RoadTrip, it's the driver.


  3. #3
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default Huge difference... er, well, depends on your definition

    There are a lot of differences between Interstates and more 'local roads', such as State Routes and other 2 lane highways. First off, is simply the speed. In the more rural areas, speed limits on Interstates can approach 75, because of the divided nature of the roadway. Third, Interstates tend to be much more 'passable' roadways, favoring wide areas without a huge incline if it can be avoided.

    Smaller roadways will more frequently go into more rural / scenic locations, generally have less traffic (and services sometimes), and go places that interstates can't/won't/don't need to go. However, it depends on your route, what you want to see, and how much time you have. If you have more time and enjoy more natural / rural scenery, the backroads will provide plesant treats and those 'hidden gems'.

    However, the Interstates have their own special scenery, so you might miss out on those as well.

    I personally like the smaller highways, because they allow lower speeds and tend to be better drives, in my opinion.

    -Arizona Brad

  4. Default

    Thanks guys for your help! I'll definitely try to split time between the two.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    The Great Midwest, Illinois to be precise

    Default Love Them Two-Laners

    You just never know what's around that next bend.

    Personally, I use both. I doubt that any two laner could have more scenery than the stretch of I-70 from Utah to Denver.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Terrain

    Being from New England, I found the Interstates in the Southwest to be a change - not so much because there aren't scenic places on our Interstates up here, but because it seemed that there were several areas where the Interstate was the only real choice. Not that that was necessarily a bad thing.

    There is a certain sense of nostalgia that is associated with the two-lane highways, for those old roadside diners, etc. But many of those places are fast disappearing, so what you have left in some areas is a stretch of highway that is effectively abandoned for the Interstate nearby...which then leaves a road that goes where you want to go with little traffic on it.

    Sometimes it's difficult to tell what you will be in for. I've been on stretches of two-lane that are wide, have nice sweeping curves, are in great condition, and have little to no traffic. Then there have been Interstates that look like they haven't been paved since Eisenhower, with funky on and off ramps and interchanges. A map only gives a small frame of reference. The best bet is to inquire locally.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Seacoast, New Hampshire

    Default Just curious...

    How are services along two-lane highways? I know that you are never at a loss for service stations on a major interstate, but I have a New Beetle that runs on diesel. Granted, I can get up to 700 miles on a tank, but if pressed, what is the availability of diesel off the interstates? Or are most stations gas only?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default Diesel

    I'd say that it depends on where you were driving. Many two lane highways (at least in LA, Arkansas and Texas) are still major trucking routes, so diesel is available at some gas stations. Also with a 700 mile gas tank you are going to be crossing through a decent sized city or an interstate at some point along the way where diesel will be sold.

  9. Default Bob weighs in.

    I am another that loves two-lane highways. I also love interstates. I just love HIGHWAYS, roads, trails, foot paths... well, you get the idea.

    Two lane highways run through river valleys, mountains, towns, etc. So do interstates (well, OK, the interstate runs around most towns, but they're still there if you want to get off and see them). Interstates are unbeatable for making time -- the two-lane is necessarily a little less hurried.

    As far as services, interstate highway services are more frequent since that is where travelers are concentrated these days. But I have never had difficulty finding food, accomodation or petrol along the two-lanes either -- except late at night (24 hour service along two-lane federal and state highways is not a given anymore). I have been forced to stop once or twice when I didn't intend, late at night, when I didn't plan my gas stops adequately enough.

    But as long as you are traveling during normal business hours, you'll have no trouble. Diesel is universal across this country -- everywhere trucks go and trucks go everywhere. Arizona Bob

Similar Threads

  1. Happy 80th Birthday- US Highways
    By RoadDog in forum RoadTrip Field Reports
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 11-10-2006, 09:08 AM
  2. Rocky Mountains
    By Melodygranger in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 07-28-2006, 08:28 AM
  3. Interstates Turn 50 today
    By RoadDog in forum RoadTrip Field Reports
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 06-28-2006, 07:30 PM
  4. Eastern US Highways?
    By mjstopera in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 16
    Last Post: 05-08-2006, 01:37 PM
  5. Western MA to VA to Graceland to Sante Fe
    By Rebecca Ratzkin in forum Off the Beaten Path
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 07-14-2003, 01:28 PM


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name